How to Organize Your Spices in Four Simple Steps

posted by Aby 17 Comments

Taking on a spice organization project is a quick way to add a dash of organizational bliss to your kitchen. Toss in a new spice storage system, add some labels, and suddenly making dinner is a pinch easier and a dash tastier than before! Here’s how to organize your spice cabinet in four simple steps.

Organize Spices on a Lazy Susan

Step 1: Sort

Select a sorting scheme for your spices, such as alphabetical, sweet and savory, regular use and specialty use, or individual spices versus spice blends. Sort your spices in a way that will make them easier to access while cooking or baking. Once you’ve selected your sorting scheme, pull all of your spices out of your spice cabinet or drawer, and start sorting.

Step 2: Edit

If you discover you have four jars of basil or caraway seed from the early ‘90s, now is the time to edit. Pitch expired spices, consolidate half-full bottles, and donate unopened and unneeded spices to your local food pantry.

organize spices in an over-the-door spice rack

Step 3: Store

Next, evaluate your spice storage system. Does it allow you to easily see and access your spices? If not, consider upgrading with a new spice organizer. Start by considering the primary storage location for your spices (cabinet, drawer, or counter) and then seek out a spice organizer that will keep your spices in sight and in-reach. For example, if your primary storage location is a cupboard, consider using a lazy Susan or a door-mounted spice rack. If you store your spices in a kitchen drawer, look for a drawer organizer designed for spices. Finally, if you keep your spices on the kitchen counter, a spice rack or lazy Susan is a terrific option for you.

counter-top spice rack

Step 4: Label

If your storage arrangement doesn’t make it easy to distinguish your basil from your bay leaves, add labels. If you’re using a lazy Susan, you could add labels to the side of the turntable. Or, if you store your spices in a drawer, it could make sense to label the tops of your spice bottles. Add labels if it will make it easier to find your spices or put them back in the right spot after cooking.

All that’s left to do now is stand back and admire your freshly organized spices—and, of course, enjoy them in your favorite meals!

Where do you store your spices? What type of spice organizer do you prefer? Thanks for sharing your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • March 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Great ideas! Thanks. I separate out my spices by those I most often use (on the back of a cabinet door) and those used less often (currently on a shelf at the top of a small closet in the kitchen – those often get lost in the back and need better organization)

    Do you have any ideas for those of us who dry our own herbs? This time of year I don’t have too much, but at the end of the summer I’ll have tons of dried oregano, thyme, basil, etc. I usually put them in brown paper lunch bags with the name of the herb just handwritten on it. Brown paper works because it’s best to keep the herbs on the stem and crumble just before putting them into a recipe. But it’s a pretty ugly solution to see at the top of my kitchen cabinet.

    Any better ideas? Needs to be kept dry and mostly closed but not have a risk of condensation getting inside. Any ideas?

    February 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I store my home dried herbs and spices in mason jars with plastic lids. It works fabulously! You can get the lids on Amazon.

    :)

    E.

    • March 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks for your question. What if you put the paper bags in a pretty basket? It sounds like the paper bags are a terrific solution in terms of providing the right climate for the dried spices…and the basket would make conceal the bags.

      For the spices on the top shelf, you might do something similar. I keep my spice blends in a small bin on a shelf. The bin keeps all the spice bottles corralled together, so nothing gets lost in the back, and it is small enough and light enough that I can pull the bin down to get out the spices I need. (This would be a great time to use labels on the top of the bottle.)

      Does this help?

      Aby

      • March 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm

        Thanks! Baskets….now why didn’t I think of that :-)

        • April 8, 2013 at 12:16 am

          For an inexpensive basket use a paper bag as a “basket”. Carefully fold the edges down (like making cuffs for your pant legs) . Use a heavier paper grocery bag to make your basket…then small lunch bags to store your dried herbs. You could place them in sideways so you could easily read labels.

          April 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm

          Donna’s idea of using a paper bag as a “basket” is a great idea especially because I tend to take some time finding the “perfect” basket. This way, I can start using the system and make it perfect when I get that basket! A great temporary but immediate solution! I LOVE Done!

          • April 12, 2013 at 5:45 am

            Just what I needed! This month, we added cupboards to some unused space in our kitchen to create a baking center, and I’ve waited over a week to bring my spices over because I haven’t known how to store them.

            I’m glad to know that it’s okay to continue using my *old* Lazy Susan from my early-marriage days!

            I found some awesome label templates at http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/pdf3/spicejar_labels.pdf. They are set up for both the sides and tops of the spice jars. Just print them onto self-adhesive paper, cut them out, and adhere.

            April 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm

            Thanks for the link, Anne. And yes…it’s always okay to use what works, even if it’s old. :)
            Aby

            January 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm

            I’ve never used labels like this before. Can you tell me how to use them? I see they provide blanks but not sure how to enter my text to create my own labels. These are adorable! Thank you!

            • May 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm

              I hang mine from 2 Ikea magnetic knife holders under my cabinet! The ones I use most are in front. In my old place, I hung them under a shelf; check out how: http://blukatkraft.blogspot.com/2011/06/diy-hanging-magnetic-spice-rackstorage.html

              May 31, 2013 at 8:25 am

              Great idea Heather! Thanks for sharing the link!

              • May 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm

                Well, I transferred (most of) my spices from bags into clear jars, labled as mentioned above. And in the process, I found more than one container of thyme. (Why in the world? I hardly ever use it!)

                So I said to my daughter: “See, this is what happenes when you’re disorganized. You lose track of . . . ” and she said, “. . . thyme?”

                Yes, my dear. That’s exactly it. You lose track of . . . time.

                But now, with my spices organized, I can save some!

                • June 10, 2013 at 10:57 am

                  We are getting ready to move into a new home and our gas stove/oven is in the kitchen island. It has a door on either side that doesn’t get use and I would love to put pull out spice racks or over the door racks to utilize that space. My question is can I store the spices that close to the stove as I’m sure with the oven going it will heat up pretty fast down there and not sure how it will affect the spices. Anyone?

                  Also, on the topic of the paper bag basket, I have a great pattern for a fabric/paperbag basket. They are time consuming to make but very simple and great for a rainy day project.

                  June 11, 2013 at 11:03 am

                  Hi, Roseanna,

                  Technically it is recommended that spices are stored in cool, dry spaces. However, I store my spices right next to my stove. It is an upper cabinet and I have kept them there for years and it has worked out fine. Maybe you could put a thermometer down there after you move in and check it when you use the stove and oven to see how hot it gets…and then decide.

                  Hope this helps.

                  Aby

                  • June 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

                    My biggest problem is living alone and my spices get old, but I don’t know how long each one lasts nor which ones should go in the refrigerator. Any help?

                    • September 12, 2013 at 11:53 am

                      I like to store mine in the cabinet by the stove as well. We put ours in a shoebox we can slide out and peek into. This means I’m not digging through the cabinet rearranging the bottles every time and we can return spices to the same spot . I would like to label them to make them even easier to find. What will work as adhesive labels for those little bottles? I would like it to be a label that fits on the top of the bottle.

                      • December 29, 2013 at 8:26 am

                        I’ve just started cooking and spices would get lost taking the fun out of the experience. The door shelves were an excellent idea. So simple now why didn’t I think of it. Thanks for the idea.